Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Roosevelt Hotel - New Orleans, Louisiana

The Roosevelt Hotel
123 Baronne Street (drive-up entrance on the other side, at University Place, which changes from O’Keefe at Canal)
New Orleans, LA 70112

By Jane Feehan

Walk into the newly renovated Roosevelt Hotel and you’ll think you’ve entered the Gilded Age of late 19th-century America. Shimmering chandeliers, golden columns and dramatically tiled floors frame this entrance into its opulent past.

Opened in the 1890s as the Grunewald Hotel, the name was changed to the Roosevelt thirty years later in honor of President Theodore Roosevelt who stayed there an evening or two. The hotel’s storied past comes to us primarily in the context of Louisiana Governor Huey P. Long’s escapades. The Roosevelt served as his home away from home and unofficial headquarters while he visited New Orleans in the 1930s. This is, as history has it, where Long reigned over his court, doling out and receiving political favors.

The hotel operated as the Fairmont when Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005. Hilton Corporation bought the property a few years after the storm; it is now part of the Waldorf Astoria Collection.

The rooms, beautifully appointed in furnishings with colors that may remind one of its past, are comfortable and quiet. The bathrooms are not large but completely updated and modernized. Roosevelt's d├ęcor does not stray far from its history –a welcome ambience in this world of stainless steel and glass.

Filled with visitors and local business types at cocktail hour, the Sazerac Bar is a warm, lively place to visit before dining at any number of places within walking distance. John Besh’s Domenica, inside the Roosevelt, offers a memorable lunch or dinner experience.

Excellent service is provided by an efficient, accessible staff. A billing issue was settled within an hour of my query by an employee who gave me her email address to resolve it – something rarely seen at other hotels. The French Quarter is a walk away. Visit the Roosevelt Hotel and experience New Orleans history. Hilton Rewards Points. Parking - $38 per day. © 2009 All rights reserved.

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